The CopperheadOS project began over a year ago with the goal of creating a substantially more secure, privacy-focused mobile OS. It has made significant progress since then, despite many obstacles and setbacks. Many of the security features have been incorporated into the Android Open Source Project for the benefit of the broader Android ecosystem. The hardening features have uncovered many latent bugs in the OS and applications, which are slowly but steadily being fixed as a result of our work.
The project has not been without difficulties. Android is a moving target and preserving the enhancements requires ongoing effort. The initial choice of CyanogenMod as the base for the OS was misguided and burned a lot of development time. The project had to be migrated to the Android Open Source Project as the base, with the ambition of supporting many devices scaled back to the Nexus line. We parted ways with one of our 3 co-founders, leaving us with a bigger burden.
As we refuse to accept outside investment that may compromise our morals, we are constantly juggling multiple hats to keep Copperhead afloat. Donations are helpful (thank you!) and service contracts help us manage but our goal with this project has always been to survive off of CopperheadOS. This is entirely possible and has helped us ally ourselves with some important organizations.
We've made some friends along the way, many of whom we personally look up to. After seeing Nathan from The Guardian Project tweet out that he is personally using CopperheadOS and helped us reach out to connections with the all-important F-Droid project we collectively came to the conclusion that it's time to provide a phone that is verifiably secure, private and transparent. This phone will be deployed by combining the Open-Source application delivering powers of F-Droid (they are very hard at work updating their platform: get involved!), the development/community powers of Guardian Project and our security-minded CopperheadOS baked in.
A crowdfunding campaign with clear goals and timelines will be coming soon.
Copperhead will need a powerful build server to greatly cut down on compilation times for both development and release builds. Currently, the builds are done on a desktop machine in regular use and far too slow (quad core Haswell). We will also need to purchase a Nexus 6, 6P and 9 LTE along with some redundant devices dedicated to running the Conformance Test Suite and making comparisons against stock Android as part of the debugging process. The initial port is actually a small portion of the overall time investment, as supporting devices for a span of around 2 years will involve a lot of device-specific testing, debugging and development.
We are already committed to supporting devices until Google drops support from the most recent stable release of the Android Open Source Project. If the crowdfunding is successful, we'll expand this providing security updates via the previous stable release as long as the devices receive support in AOSP. Google guarantees 2 years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates, but devices may be supported for longer.
There's much to be said about providing an Open-Source product. While shining examples of businesses can present themselves as evidence of the ability to survive as an Open-Source company, the greatest asset that Open-Source has is the community. Open-Source Software thrives and succeeds because of the community supporting it and by facilitating alliances between organizations with a common goal, Open-Source can take us where we need to go.
We (Copperhead, The Guardian Project and F-Droid) are reaching out to this very community with a simple request: Help us continue to provide you with the best in private, secure communications. Help us continue to fight the uphill battle of keeping everyone's communications private, safe and secure.